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We packed up in the morning and went to StoryLand. We got the other three plastic card passes, since there were few people in the park. We did a few rides -- both coasters, the kids did turtles. A. really wanted Dippin' Dots again (she'd had those and an ice cream sundae the day before, followed by more ice cream after dinner. Jeez.), and the little stand wasn't open so she kept begging to go to Pixie Kitchen to get them there. So we did. Since there were no lines anywhere, I asked for the allergy binder and read it. Turns out there are dairy free dippin' dots (who knew? The ices, basically). I didn't get them. I did, however, check the fried dough, and got that. I should have shared it with R., but he wanted to get his own. And then I followed up my bad judgment with a burger for lunch. I tried to get it without the fries and failed. I did manage to not eat all the fries.

We left around noon. The drive home -- and this is so typical -- was a lot busier than the drive up. We got home before 5 p.m., and without having had dinner, but we had enough food (in us from that excessive lunch, and in the fridge) that we didn't go out but instead ate at home. We got unpacked and did some laundry and went to bed early.
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Today we went to Storyland. As is often the case, there was a long line for getting the plastic card for the season pass. R. and the kids went on RoarOSaurus while I stood in the long line because I wanted to buy the digital season picture pass and I had to have the plastic card version of the season pass in order to do that. It took over an hour, but I still think it was worth it, and the kids got to ride the coaster several times.

It was a really nice day, sunny and pleasant enough to ride the Bamboo Chutes and Dr. Geyser's raft ride. We didn't mind getting wet and we dried off fairly quickly.

After we went back to the hotel, R. went for a 2 hour bike ride. I took the kids down to the hotel pool, and ran a load of laundry while they swam. (I did have A. sit in a chair poolside while I left the pool to go advance the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, and T. came with me.)

We had dinner at the 99s. We sat on the patio, and by then, it had cooled down enough that I was happy I put my jeans on instead of wearing shorts and I wished I'd brought a jacket. A. didn't care -- she was more concerned about the qualify of the wifi on the porch.

It was my birthday. J. called to sing me Happy Birthday, which I love love love love love.

A. wished me a Happy Birthday as soon as she woke up. That was very cute.
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We drove to Santa's Village today. The kids both did the Elfabet game; this might be one of the last years they still enjoy doing that, altho you never know. We work really hard not to tell the kids when they are too old to do something; I'm a big believer in extracting every little bit of enjoyment out of the developmental process and honestly, I'm still kind of pissed at being told I was too old to watch Mr. Rogers when I was about A.'s age so this is basically me rebelling.

We got dinner at Applebee's, again, we've done that so many times even the waitress remembered us from last Columbus Day, I think. After that, we went outlet shopping at stores that start with the letter 'C' -- I felt like I was in an episode of Sesame Street. A. wanted some Shopkins stuff at Claire's, and T. bought a new phone case (looks like a movie theatre popcorn, which is pretty awesome). Then we went to the Crocs store, where I bought Wonder Woman crocs, among more practical choices, and the kids went slightly nuts for Jibbitz (the little things that can be pressed into the holes of classic crocs to decorate them).
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On Friday, we picked up the kids just before school let out and drove north. T. was not in a good mood; I don't really understand why.

We had dinner at the Common Man in Concord. We've done that on the drive to North Conway enough times that we've gotten through the unfamiliarity issues the kids have. And the food and service are consistently good and the bathrooms clean.

We checked into the Residence Inn, which is under renovation. There was some confusion between me and another family with the last name which was supposed to be in a family suite but was given our room instead. Fortunately, they will be the ones who have to move Saturday, not us, and there was an available alternative for us.

The balance of the evening was uneventful.
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After we had breakfast, I walked A. around the block. We chatted. She liked the Boeing Creek park adventure. We packed up and left, stopping at two post offices before finding one still in business so we could get a poster tube for the Real Estate poster for the flight home. We also stopped for gas, then returned the rental car. I had the garden plate at Manchu Wok. A. did not eat the grilled cheese I got her at Africa Lounge (I ate the chips on the plane). T. ate most of his chicken tenders -- R. helped him but A. did not like them either. Plane left on time / slightly early. Arrived somewhat early, but then blew through that waiting for the gate to be available. Lots of flights piled up. But we got our luggage last and trailed out and so missed the worst of the traffic. Had a drink and pb&j when I got home. The less you pack, the less you have to unpack -- who knew?!?! No trouble playing game on the plane. FlyFi was great, sponsored by Amazon for TrueBlue members, did a little research to figure out "delicate mad hands" and "her smoke rose up forever" (a poem to someone in Bedlam and Babylon, respectively).

I miss Seattle and all my family and friends there, but I'm glad to be home. This was the right length of trip, and it was very nice having a spare day or two on either side to prepare/recover. We're thinking about returning August 2018, but are not sure if it will work out or not.
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Hung out at D.'s house, who was as always a lot of fun to talk to. Interesting travel plans. Beautiful home. Returned to house. R. came over. Went to Lost Lake Cafe (K. recommendation). R.'s boss is actually a facebook friend so she is not the person to worry about whether anything she is doing is going to be a problem -- she'll hear first! Later C. came over, who was a neighbor and walking partner and has more recently helped out with plumbing issues at the condo. Then L. and M. (funny stories about making mistakes at a kosher BBQ in Brooklyn) and R.. C. left last. Should definitely throw more parties next time. My friends are all really nice to each other and generally get along well in a social context.
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No morning visit. I scheduled an Uber ride to 601 Union (second Uber ride ever -- tipped the same for both rides, first driver was blase -- second driver looked a little shocked. I'm thinking this truly is a No Tipping Culture). I had a brief chat with L. then we went to the Palomino. He will be sending me more research notes. He seems nice -- UW '89 graduate. Talked up ESG investment strategies, which you know, I used to be all excited about until everyone rained on my parade / ideals. Now, of course, millenials are all over the ESG strategy so It Is Hip. Or something. I'll try not to resent this.

I walked home. I stopped at QFC to pick up steaks, A1 sauce, baked fries (after chatting with J. about what to feed everyone), a red bell pepper, mushrooms and a bag of tortilla chips.

The P./C. family came over to hang out. We had a lovely time and a very good dinner of steaks and assorted sides (fries, salad, etc.).
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K. came to visit. She is just back from Austria, 9 hours jet lagged. I learned a lot about her childhood in California. She brought beads and a butterfly hair clip craft kit for A., also a pink straw hat.

I scheduled an Uber ride (first Uber ever for me) to UBS. S., B. and I had a nice chat, then a nice lunch at Wild Ginger. B. has a daughter and there is some drama. S. says it doesn't help that she is 6'5". I said, "That would be 5'17"." I took the Link to Cap Hill then walked home.

I had dinner at Ray's Cafe: R., me, T., A., Big B., J., R. and M, S. and R. but not B., H. and P. C. and P. (sisters) canceled day of. C. family canceled day before. K. couldn't make it. D. couldn't make it. We had a very enjoyable 3 hours.

Scheduled visit to T. (father), M. (cousin -- to see her non-profit in Everett), and J. (I get to see the beautiful house!) on Thursday. R. has not kept up with M. and B. (their neighbors, my former coworkers), so they were talking about F. as a baby and I got to say, "That would be A!" Best opportunity and successful line delivery ever. (In retrospect, Monday was apparently my day for this category of story.) Turns out H. knows B., also, from an editing class at the UW. I did not know that. Small world!
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Breakfast out of the kitchen. Snacks out of the kitchen. There's an electric tea kettle, which is nice. Had a hard time sleeping, kind of worried about R. (not my husband or my sister) because still thinking it might have been a stroke. Little bit of a mystery, but things are going great. It's hard to get an MRI done on Easter Sunday. T. and I visited her for a half hour or so and forgot a charger. She's definitely seeming better; now confusion is pretty within range for not enough sleep. Cousins canceled probably both Sunday and Monday. But a different cousin (who won't make it to dinner tomorrow) came over around 10:30. R. went for walk. Feeling like lunch time at 9:30 or so so split an apple fritter from Whole Foods (vegan) with R.

Cousin brought flowers and chocolates for the children. We had a lovely conversation, tacos for lunch and hung out. I made him a manhattan with the good cherries. Bummed I didn't get to meet his girlfriend/partner; maybe next time.
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We got up at 5 a.m. The car service arrived a little before 6 a.m. There was no traffic to speak of going to Logan. Alaska was in a part of Logan we haven't been in (recently). We checked one bag for $25. We gate checked to the carousel a second bag upon request for more checked bags (no charge). Boarding was uneventful. First row premium but not a full bulkhead. Trays came out of arm rests reducing further the effective width of the seat pan, but tolerable. Leg room was great. Service was good. Bought the fruit and cheese snack/meal for T. and R. had some of it too. Bought 2 containers of M&Ms for A. I had a woodford and ginger ale (no charge for the liquor in premium). R. had the woodford with something else later. Bag retrieval was blisteringly fast, altho we did spend some time in the Sub Pop shop and went to the bathroom (twice, I think). National rental pickup was uneventful -- got a Rogue which made me happy. Had that at the Cape and prefer it to the Impala. T. got a tablet and watched Sing and Rogue One for $10; streaming movies were a different set of movies that didn't include those. No free wifi option officially, but if you turned on free chat, it was enough wifi to play Farm Ville 2 Country Escape which is sort of weird how that worked out -- I couldn't even pick up email, but I could play my game using some but not all connected options (the main market didn't work, but the current game board did work). I brought the G Ro bag, the Sak I bought for the UBS conference (a bigger purse than I would normally carry, most of the way to a messenger bag), the Lewis and Clark extremely thin packable backpack. A. had her scooter bag (Z-Flyte from Amazon) and the lesportsac small world duffle (it got checked at the gate). T. had his Olaf scooter and a string backpack (Red Sox, IIRC). R. brought his big red bag, and his Scooba backpack, so he was still old schooling it. Got in early. Went to Kidd Valley by Green Lake, then Whole Foods, then back to Cap Hill to check in to the rental house by Stevens Elementary. R. and L. visited -- first time meeting L. He's nice. Walked with both. Walked back with R. She had a medical issue later in the day which was a bit of an adventure all around. I was only involved via texting.
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We landed very early in the morning, after a very short flight -- 4.5 hours, the shortest transcon I've ever been on. Tailwinds! We had Mint again, and A. and I went right to sleep as soon as we were allowed to move the seats down. No wakeups on her part; she slept through. T. and R. ate some things and then slept also. Had the nice drink again; I really like that.

Our driver was late picking us up because we were so early. This time, we had expedited baggage -- not sure why that didn't happen on the flight out. Maybe we were supposed to say something? They have the automated kiosks for the bag tickets, so I don't know how that works. I didn't know to ask on the way out. It was cool -- our bags really were basically the first ones out on the carousel. We didn't rush, but the driver wasn't there and it was cold and windy. I called (should have checked my email; I could have called the driver directly). R. put the kids in the shelter while I looked around for the driver's plate, since he was dropping someone else off a couple islands over. He was nice -- quiet, but nice. No traffic to speak of at 6 ish on a Sunday morning.

T. wanted to go to track. I told him to wake me up at 8 and I'd tell him if I felt safe to drive; I can be very punchy and disoriented early in the morning and I was still on west coast time. I declined at 8 and went back to sleep. Both kids were awake at that point, but when I woke up again at 10:30 the house was silent. A. was snoring in bed. T. was asleep on the couch.

The horse people texted to find out if we were coming; I said no way on A., but probably T. would be there. But when he woke up, he was crying and I had to cancel. His mood was very uneven and he was sniffling a lot. I got some laundry going, unpacked, and took T. out to a late lunch/early dinner at Not Your Average Joe's. I cleaned out the fridge and made salad and cole slaw. I had those for dinner.
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Today was our last day in the parks. We had used up our 5 day ticket, so R. and I bought 1 day/1 park tickets on our phones. That worked out really simply. Nice system! The whole park is very phone centric.

I didn't get up for the really early park open (7 a.m. with 1 hour early for staying on property), but we did get there earlier than our 8:30 breakfast at the Plaza Inn and rode Buzz twice. Plaza Inn was fun; I had an omelette and some gluten free/milk free mickey waffles. She had the regular mickey waffles. Lots of photos, including "Max", Goofy's son who I had not been previously aware of. After that, we got Hyperspace Mountain one last time, and Star Tours. We did the Tinkerbell meet and greet. We watched Path of the Jedi. And we got a photo with Boba Fett in Launch Bay. We watched (but did not participate in) Trials of the Temple.

We left a little early and hung out in the hotel lobby. We had to wait for gate agents. They take a dinner break, I guess. Mint was lovely. Luggage was expedited. Flight was super short due to tail winds. We all slept.

A. got take out from McD's next to the rental car return. The rest of us got BK at the airport. I got a phone call from the hotel asking us about the shoes we had abandoned in the room -- we had even put them in the trash. Great service, I guess? Also, we'd left a sleep mask. No, we didn't want any of those back.
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We had a great last day at Disney's California Adventure. We saw the Frozen show at the Hyperion. We did the Anna and Elsa meet and greet in the Animation building. A. really enjoyed watching the snippets of cartoons that were playing so waiting wasn't a big chore. We rode Soarin and Racers in the morning, and got a Soarin fast pass for the end of the day (after dinner). We tried to ride the Goofy coaster but it broke down so we used that fast pass at the end of the day, too. We also got A. a multi color pen like K. had.

We had dinner at Goofy's Kitchen. I bought the Passport Collection, since I hadn't paid for any photos yet, and that got us the photo voucher for the group photo at the restaurant. It's sad the trip is basically all but over; it's been a lot of fun and I will miss J & J, K., and N.
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We had a late lunch at the Blue Bayou, despite the closure of Pirates of the Caribbean for refurbishment. We had had some concerns about whether the various atmospheric effects would be on or not and had been told various stories. Obviously, no water noises of hearing the boats go by! And we couldn't see any stars, which was a bummer, but otherwise it felt about like it usually does. The chef came out to help R., J. and I with our various dietary constraints and everyone had a good meal. I stopped at the Stage Door beforehand to pick up A. a power pack so she would have things to snack on.

I had gotten a fast pass for Big Thunder when I noticed the wait time was the same as the fast pass return (this happened _a lot_ on this trip, which I find incredibly confusing). During our wait, I lined up some other activities, and A. inserted a bathroom break in the middle. We went over by the Zocalo and wow, there was a line. We still made it to lunch in time, but it was a near thing.

She also requested a character breakfast at the Plaza Inn. I don't like to do these, because they tend to happen during the nice, relatively quiet time at the beginning of the day, but it was towards the end of the trip and we'd gotten to do basically everything we really wanted to do so I said, sure, if I can make a reservation. I wasn't able to get one for Friday, but I did get one for Saturday.

Since we had a big, late lunch, T. and I went down to the Hearthstone Lounge for chips again, and a drink for me. I'm gonna miss this. It's fun.
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Yesterday, A.'s interest in Haunted Mansion was piqued by a girl one year younger than her in line (but taller! this was the DVC family from Queens that I was so utterly charmed by). Today, we tried to ride it and failed a few times before ultimately succeeding. It was down at park open, so we went on Winnie the Pooh -- and rode it through a second time without getting off the ride. We were the first people on it this morning. We also rode Indy standby and then later on a fastpass, walked through the treehouse.

Dinner was at Cafe Orleans, which is a little odd, because they don't have a bar. So I went down to the lounge after we got back to the hotel with T. again. It's getting to be a nice little routine: I get a drink, we get chips, salsa and guac, we talk a little and play on our devices for a while. Altho it is potentially going to come back to bite me, if some of my son's major memories of hanging out with me on vacations is going to bars with me.
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Went to Disneyland today. The Hyperspace Mountain -- Star Wars themed space mountain -- is hugely awesome. Waited almost an hour and had a great time chatting with Becky and Bruce originally from Ohio, now in Albuquerque. Retired from teaching school and Sandia National Labs. Also met a lovely family of four from Queens (house destroyed in Hurricane Sandy) while waiting to enter the park. Both parents school teachers. DVC members. They are thinking about Aulani, too.

Met a family of four from Wellesley waiting for the Gadget coaster. A. ran the bubble wand constantly and the kids had a blast. The mother took pictures and emailed me one. Our kids got along great and we're going to try to set up a playdate -- wonderful what can happen in a line!

Also had a nice chat waiting in FP line to ride space mountain again -- LA resident.

Went to build a bear and got a Minnie Bear. Lunch at Galactic Grill. Walked through the castle. A. loved riding the horse drawn omnibus back to the front of the park. She was amazed it was a real horse.

My cousin has sent a letter requesting no contact from his parents and saying he won't be supporting them financially. It's a good letter. I'm thinking about copying the message and using parts of it myself. Our situations have some elements in common (the parents are shunning us, but intruding in our lives with a variety of requests and demands, while being simultaneously unwilling to engage in the most basic elements of a family connection, like, sharing a meal or even talking for pleasure as opposed to for family business such as a funeral, or a request for funds, etc.), but other elements are not shared. I wouldn't wish what we are going through on anyone, but it is kind of amazing to have someone to communicate with and work through the issues with. Doing this in complete isolation, or only with the support of people with no relevant experience, would be much more difficult.
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Still drizzling. We got into Universal Studios before 9 a.m. Did Harry Potter since it was one of the few rides open. Then Studio Tours. A. and I got popcorn and did Minions standby with a 20 minute wait. We had lunch at Mel's (burgers). She really likes the Dots graham crackers that come with the Universal Studios kids' meals. We went to the lower lot but Transformers ride and photo op were shut down for different mechanical reasons -- nothing in California is really designed to deal with rain and there have been leaks and buckets to catch them everywhere we go. This time, we rode the elevator to go on the Studio Tour rather than take the stairs. And to go to the lower lot, we took an elevator down to meet a van. They didn't give us any trouble using the van even tho our issue was phobia of escalators (especially down escalators) rather than a physical mobility issue like everyone else on the van. I did convince her to ride back up both yesterday and today. Today's souvenir was a hooded towel based on the fluffy unicorn. Kind of amazing, actually.

Studio Tour today was different than the day before -- we got the flash flood and the picture cars, which we had not gotten the day before. R. and T. had some sort of ride evacuation issue for a couple people on the tram -- in the middle of the Fast and Furious segment! Maybe they really were in the witness protection program! They drove around and did it again with the film turned on the second time.

T. and R. did Walking Dead -- A. and I did not. We did go see Shrek 4D, which was pretty hilarious altho short. I will definitely lobby to do that again in Orlando.

I got a dinner reservation at Storytellers and we had the same server as a couple nights ago. Since it was the dinner vs the lunch menu, I couldn't get the salmon spinach salad; I had the spare ribs and slaw, along with a salad and the latke like allergy bread. Really tasty, especially with two rye manhattans. Phone convo with my sister; we're both feeling really pretty good today, which is wonderful. The kids went over to White Water Snacks to get Mickey ice cream bars for dessert then waited for us at the entrance to Storytellers to walk back with us. Very civilized! T. turned over the receipt. R. pointed out that by paying for the main meal with my regular visa, I was not getting the DVC discount. D'oh! We've been getting it on everything else, because it is marked on our room key which we've been charging everything in the resort to. I like this system better than it has been in Orlando -- there you have to work harder to get the discount. Not that it matters in any greater scheme of things.
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Second day in the parks. Still drizzling. So much for 10% chance of rain! We went to Universal Studios but got a late start. We had front of the line, which made it easy. A lot of the rides that are 3D in Florida are not in California -- they apparently had problems and took it out?

When we got back, A. wanted to go get a Mickey ice cream bar at White Water Snacks. T. was willing to take her. Even tho they had been bickering a bunch, they were both happy to go together without a parent, and I was willing to risk it. They have charging privileges on their hotel cards and T. has a phone. It all worked out, altho I only belatedly realized that the California side parks have a minimum unattended child age that is older than either of my kids. But we weren't in the parks. *shrug*

I went down to Hearthstone Lounge to get a drink. There was a line. Only At Disney. They have the rye manhattan with the good cherries at this lounge, too. Yay! I tried to get either kid to come down with me, but they didn't want to. Then after my drink arrived, T. showed up. He got a coke, altho we had to switch to a table because children are not allowed to sit at the bar part of the lounge. We had a long chat discussing possible ways to travel to Yellowstone on a future trip. We're leaning towards Jackson, WY for airport, but haven't figured out which carrier and thus which stop in between. Nor have we figured out what exactly we want to do in the park. Adventures by Disney does a Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Dude Ranch trip, but it looks a little too organized for my tastes.
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Today, my sister's flight was fairly early, so she went to Disney Springs and then home. We had a later flight so we went to AK and rode Expedition Everest 5 times. Ouch. I refused to get on it again. I had to take imodium in the morning anyway because I foolishly ate a Veggie Naanwich at Epcot a couple days earlier and it really didn't agree with me. Allergy pills will fix the allergic reaction but I never remembered to take a lactose pill.

After Everest, we did Safaris, then lunch at Restaurantosaurus. Then everyone else went on Primeval Whirl. I hate that ride. It beats up my shoulders something fierce and I have no idea why.

A. and I also did It's Tough to Be a Bug.

Our flight was delayed because the incoming flight on the same airplane was late out of Boston due to weather and we weren't able to leave until things were a little better in Boston anyway. Fortunately, it turns out that one of the boxes of food they sell on JetBlue is kosher, vegan and gluten free, which means -- because of the vegan part -- it has no milk products. Fortunately, they did not do gluten free with buckwheat, which would have been a problem for me. R. bought a sandwich to bring on the plane. I had the last of the package of bagels for T. and a box of Nutrigrain bars to feed A. I got a Jack to go with my Ginger Ale and felt much less annoyed by the whole experience.

I discovered that the driver on the way home had gone to college at EWU, and lived for a while here in Acton. Small world!

T. unpacked his luggage put everything away unprompted then put himself to bed. A. went to bed without much protest. I did not do laundry, but got everything else unpacked. We are all very happy to be home.
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I probably should not have planned to do MK today, because it was insanely busy. Also, our APs had expired yesterday so we had to set up new media and I forgot to tell R. who left earlier than us with T. *sigh* It did eventually all work out. They waited in the Will Call line for me.

I convinced A. to do Peter Pan first thing, which was fun. Then we did Belle and there was no one there, but fortunately people showed up pretty quick. A. wanted to be Mrs. Potts (she always does) and that actually worked out well. We even still managed to get on Buzz through the regular line. Then it was fast passes, but A. wanted to do Space Mountain twice; we waited through a 40 minute queue -- mostly she just wished there were games to play through the whole queue. Last FP was Seven Dwarfs. I love that ride. Then she brought up going to see Rapunzel and Tiana, which would have been a 5 minute wait in the morning, but was now 55 minutes. I was able to get a 4th FP for about an hour and 10 minutes, so we bought some stuff, went to the bathroom, went on the carousel and finally got into the FP line slightly early. I convinced her we could go back to the hotel at that point, since T. and R. had gone there so we could ride with them in the car over to dinner. Altho it was tricky -- she wanted to know where the other princesses were.

We had lunch with my sister's family at Cosmic Ray's. We all had dinner at Ohana, where the kids got to do coconut races.

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